Support grows for vigilante Dutch fighter who took on ISIS

Jitse Akse (Photo: Justice for Jitse/Facebook)Jitse Akse (Photo: Justice for Jitse/Facebook)

The arrest of former Dutch soldier Jitse Akse on suspicion that he killed ISIS-fighters in Syria, is leading to fierce criticism against the Public Prosecutor. The Prosecutor is abusing its powers as Akse was only arrested to prevent him from returning to Syria, says University of Amsterdam international law professor Geert-Jan Knoops. A petition against Akse's arrest already has almost 50 thousand signatures, and more than 21 thousand people liked a Facebook group created to show support for the former soldier.

Akse was arrested on Wednesday and arraigned on Friday. The magistrate decided to release him from custody, but confiscated his passport, RTL Nieuws reports. The former soldier fought with the Kurdish militia YPG.

Dutch nationals fighting against terrorist organization Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, still fall under the Dutch criminal law. According to the Public Prosecutor, citizens do not have the right to decide for themselves to use deadly force. Killing ISIS fighters can therefore lead to murder charges.

According to Knoops, the Public Prosecutor does not have enough evidence to press charges against Akse. He was arrested based on a few interviews he gave in which he told about his fight against ISIS. "This type of interviews can not be regarded as full confessions, because you are missing a lot of detail", the international law professor said to RTL. "Moreover, there are no witnesses to confirm this. There is also no forensic evidence that confirms the accuracy of the remark. Therefore, if the file only contains interviews, that is really not enough."

Knoops believes that the Prosecutor knows very well that he has no case against Akse, and that Akse was only arrested so that his passport could be confiscated. "That is actually a kind of abuse of power. Because then you as Prosecutor actually use your arresting power not in order to prosecute him, but to prevent him leaving the country."

The online petition against Akse's arrest already has almost 50 thousand signatures, with more than 9 thousand comments to support him. "This man is a hero", "fighting against terrorism = freedom and not crime", "the man deserves a medal", "he does more about the situation in Syria than this government" and "the world needs more heroes like Jitse Akse", are a few of the comments.

Similar comments can be seen on the Facebook page Justice for Jitse. One writes that "his name should be in the school books as a big hero". Another thinks that the "government should be ashamed". Another points out that resistance fighters in the Second World War "got a medal" for similar deeds."